Letter to the Editor: Questions on work, debt, hyperinflation
November 20, 2013 10:20 AM

In 1960 I voted in a presidential election for the first time. Back then I probably didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. Now I have a lot more questions than I did then.

For example: how did we get from President Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” to today’s gimme, gimme society, where people actually demand what once was known as charity? I grew up with the understanding that if I wanted something, I should work for it. That doesn’t seem to hold true today.

I also have questions about the national debt. Why aren’t more people concerned about it? I thought everyone knew that it’s not smart to use one credit card to pay off another. What happens if the interest rate doubles or triples? Don’t people know what happened in Europe? Or Detroit? Retirees who get a check from Detroit just found out they may just receive 16 cents for every dollar promised because of Detroit’s debt.

Could it happen to the federal government? I don’t know, but a whole lot of retirees would be hurting if it did.

President Obama’s answer is to tax the rich, but President Kennedy said, “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment, and effort — thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.” (Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress)

Again, I don’t know who is right but something seems to be “stifling our national growth.”

I also have a lot of questions about hyperinflation. Back in the 1920s it caused a U.S. dollar to be worth 4 trillion German marks. And in 2006 it caused a roll of toilet paper in Zimbabwe to cost $145,750 (69 U.S. cents).

Hyperinflation is caused by a country irresponsibly borrowing money to pay all expenses. I don’t pretend to understand it, but it has something to do with increasing the money supply — sort of what our Fed is doing now — that is not supported by gross national product growth.

I referred to Kennedy because his death appears to mark when the federal government went from governing to manipulating. LBJ started a series of social programs that were designed to help people but soon turned into programs designed to buy votes.

Russell D. Lucas

Penn Run

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